Coping with Megacorp rat race

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financeidiot
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by financeidiot »

It's hard to understand what you have until you sample something else. I've worked at MegaCorps, a federal contractor, startups, and (now) for myself. Each have their advantages and disadvantages:

I didn't understand the value of working for and with people I like until I worked for and with people I didn't like.
I didn't understand why people would take less money to work fewer hours until I worked at 60-80 hour weeks at a soul-sucking MegaCorp.
I didn't understand why people would trade salary for stock option lottery tickets at a startup until I had to make that choice.
I didn't understand why people go nuts for WeWork and other neat office perks until I worked for a company that had them.
I didn't understand why people wouldn't want to work for themselves until I experienced the loneliness of a company of one.

Every situation has pros and cons, but you'll never really know if it's for you until you try it. The most important thing is to understand who you are, what you want, and what you're sacrificing. If you're comfortable with your choices, you're in the right place. If you're not, it's time to try something else.

But here's the kicker! You can go back! If you're good at your job, nice to people, and honest, you can go back to where you fit best or find a similar situation. Leaving a job doesn't have to burn the bridge behind you. I can make a phone call and be back at an old employer within 1-3 months.

If where you are now was the best fit for you all along, you'll appreciate it more when you eventually come back to it.
Helo80
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Helo80 »

What I learned in this thread --- FIRE whether you want to or not. Develop that nest egg that JL Collins calls "Something Something Money".

(Note: had to obscure JL Collins words, because I'm not allowed to even censor the cuss word).
alfaspider
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by alfaspider »

Helo80 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:16 pm What I learned in this thread --- FIRE whether you want to or not. Develop that nest egg that JL Collins calls "Something Something Money".

(Note: had to obscure JL Collins words, because I'm not allowed to even censor the cuss word).
I don't think that's unique to the Megacorp rat race. Being FI frees you from having to put up bad employment situations. Few people really want to retire to a beach at 45 for the rest of their life (well, they may think they do, but reality is that most will get bored and aimless). But everyone would likely be happier on their own terms. At the very least, it takes away the fear that you might be on the next layoff list.

FI is of course a spectrum. I like to think of it by the following steps:

1) Financial Autonomy: could go a few years without a job. You still have to worry about finding a new job if yours goes south, but it's not an acute emergency. You can afford to up and quit a truly toxic situation if need be.

2) Bug-out FI: you could do the "RE" thing by taking significant austerity measures. I'm at this spot. It would mean selling the house, cars, and purchasing a modest home in a LCOL area. It's not something I would do affirmatively, but something I could do if it really came down to it. A layoff or bad environment is still cause for significant concern, but it's not an immediate disaster, and you can bide your time for something better if need be.

3) Basic FI: You could do the "RE" thing with careful budgeting while maintaining a fairly equivalent standard of living and keep current residence. Hope to be here by my mid 40s. A lot of people who get let go in their 50s end up doing something like this. This is the level where you can breathe, but you still need to care about money.

4) Fat FI: This is the JL Collins level people really want. You can continue your current life style plus money for splurges and extra travel. Money isn't really important to your work life at all so you can do it on your own terms. I hope to get here by my early 50s.
stoptothink
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by stoptothink »

alfaspider wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:50 pm
stoptothink wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:01 pm
Valuethinker wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:26 am
stoptothink wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:10 pm
BGeste wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:19 am I worked at megacorps for 30 years and reached senior levels. The politics get worse as you get higher up and over the last 15 years many megacorps have become very woke and less of a meritocracy.
I'm 5.5yrs into my first Megacorp (well, medium corp) experience. It was an absolute dream for 5yrs; had the chance to grow, am now in senior management, genuinely enjoyed working, and thought I had no reason to ever leave. This year has been eye-opening; things are different, your statement is exactly what I am experiencing. Insane politics and drama, great departments turning toxic seemingly overnight. I know I still have it really good, but I'm becoming rapidly more interested in calling it quits as soon as I can (maybe as early as 45, but surely by 50).
If you work for big corporates, it is wise to plan that your career will end at 50.

Unless you get promoted to very senior ranks, or have a protected technical speciality (and what is that, nowadays?), big corp will be looking to get rid of you in your early 50s. I have friends who have been through that at IBM for example - they were all highly rated performers and they were all gone by age 55 or sooner. Ditto at big banks. You are perceived (perhaps fairly) to be expensive and to be lower productivity (activity is often mistaken for productivity, in my experience) and also resistant to change and new approaches (may not be fair). But, mostly, you have grey hair.

Very senior you might have another 5-10 years, although when the new CEO is in his or her early 50s, will be looking to replace existing Finance people, divisional directors, with their own team.

I am watching the reorg go on right now, and it's taken out a whole raft of divisional directors, basically anyone with the experience & nous to challenge the CEO on her own ground. The wave will then proceed down the corporate pyramid towards us troglodytes in the ranks.
I'll be quite honest, I have seen absolutely none of this in my experience. My employer has never had a layoff in their history and it is next to impossible to fire someone even with an amazing amount of cause (as a director, I unfortunately know this too well). I've never known a single individual at my employer (or really, anywhere) who was "pushed out" and I have colleagues that are in their 70's and well past their productive years (at this point they are essentially tenured professors). My wife is in tech and her (mid-size) corp is the same, never had a layoff and the majority of her colleagues are 50+. I'm sure it happens, but I've never seen it and I'm a high achiever so it's not something I am particularly concerned about. Nonetheless, I'm getting even more committed to being financially prepared to call it quits early because the corporate politics are getting old.
Long story short is that so much depends on the strength of the company/industry.
Absolutely. It certainly happens, when layoffs come the highest compensated employees are logically at greatest risk, but among my list of concerns about my career future - based upon what I have seen - this one isn't at the top.

I'm preparing to have the freedom to call it well before I hit 50 anyway.
PhillyPhan
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by PhillyPhan »

Great thread and just wanted to chime in with some food for thought.

From my view, there is a greater probability for middle managers to be subject to downsizing after 3-5 years in their role if they are not on the radar for promotion or advancement. I have seen steady eddies who are effective in their role sit in the same seat for decades at the same company. The manage up or out principal seems to skew more towards managers.

This leads me to ponder if it is advantageous or +EV to even pursue and chase the coveted "next step" aka middle manager role. As many have noted, those who ascend past middle management are often already flagged and identified thus chasing such a role can place an X on your back when time comes for talent reviews/succession planning.


Is the steady Eddie who saves and enjoys 30-40 years in a less stressful role better off than the middle manager who only lasts a few years in their role (which seems more probable than remaining in it for longer)?
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steve50
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by steve50 »

Valuethinker wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:26 am
stoptothink wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:10 pm
BGeste wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:19 am I worked at megacorps for 30 years and reached senior levels. The politics get worse as you get higher up and over the last 15 years many megacorps have become very woke and less of a meritocracy.
I'm 5.5yrs into my first Megacorp (well, medium corp) experience. It was an absolute dream for 5yrs; had the chance to grow, am now in senior management, genuinely enjoyed working, and thought I had no reason to ever leave. This year has been eye-opening; things are different, your statement is exactly what I am experiencing. Insane politics and drama, great departments turning toxic seemingly overnight. I know I still have it really good, but I'm becoming rapidly more interested in calling it quits as soon as I can (maybe as early as 45, but surely by 50).
If you work for big corporates, it is wise to plan that your career will end at 50.

Unless you get promoted to very senior ranks, or have a protected technical speciality (and what is that, nowadays?), big corp will be looking to get rid of you in your early 50s. I have friends who have been through that at IBM for example - they were all highly rated performers and they were all gone by age 55 or sooner. Ditto at big banks. You are perceived (perhaps fairly) to be expensive and to be lower productivity (activity is often mistaken for productivity, in my experience) and also resistant to change and new approaches (may not be fair). But, mostly, you have grey hair.

Very senior you might have another 5-10 years, although when the new CEO is in his or her early 50s, will be looking to replace existing Finance people, divisional directors, with their own team.

I am watching the reorg go on right now, and it's taken out a whole raft of divisional directors, basically anyone with the experience & nous to challenge the CEO on her own ground. The wave will then proceed down the corporate pyramid towards us troglodytes in the ranks.
+1
You would be one of the lucky ones if you are able to survive past age 55 at megacorp.
absolute zero
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by absolute zero »

Off topic, but why do so many on this site call large companies “MegaCorp.” Do you guys verbally use this word in your day to day vocabulary? When I google it, I find that MegaCorp is a “widespread term in cyberpunk literature.” One of the oddities of this forum, in my opinion.
Tingting1013
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Tingting1013 »

absolute zero wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:38 pm Off topic, but why do so many on this site call large companies “MegaCorp.” Do you guys verbally use this word in your day to day vocabulary? When I google it, I find that MegaCorp is a “widespread term in cyberpunk literature.” One of the oddities of this forum, in my opinion.
What else would you call a company with tens of thousands of employees and billions of dollars in revenue?
luckyducky99
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by luckyducky99 »

BV3273 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:54 am
davebo wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:46 am
Horton wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:32 pm
McGilicutty wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:43 pm
market timer wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:48 am 6. Delegate the bad parts of your job. Everyone has some things they are good at and enjoy, and other things where they need help. Make sure you have people under you who can complement your weaknesses and do what needs to be done.
Couldn't agree with this more. OP, get a bunch of underlings to do the crappy parts of your job and become the "idea" guy.

Your goal should be to not actually do any work, but to go from meeting to meeting during the day spouting off great-sounding ideas for others to implement.

Good luck.
The again, the OP may have a boss like this and that’s why he’s venting. 🤔
Some of these answers seem strange to me. Telling people to just shift gears and lead a project or to hire people to delegate the parts of their job that they don't like. It all sounds very simple when you say it like that. ha
My take as well. The OP didn’t specify which level they are within the organization they work at. Tough to answer his post without a little more info.
I agree this has been oversimplified. But unless your career trajectory has been weird, by 32 you should be focusing on (a) developing/honing the skill set in your field to allow you to work independently on projects that add significant value and (b) if you're not in management, learning to manage up, i.e. demonstrate how you provide value and why you should be leading a project, convince them that doing XYZ that you hate is not the best use of your time, etc. Again, finding the right spot with the right management is important for this.

After you rock that for a while, you can continue to move on to be the guy who runs around between meetings just telling people what they should do.

It depends on the person though. Some people never get past just being task-doing cogs. Some people get to the point of autonomy and stop there (that's what happened to me -- I enjoy deep focus and being productive and don't like going to meetings). Some people keep going to the point where all they do is run around spouting ideas. YMMV.
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novolog
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by novolog »

PhillyPhan wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:17 pm Great thread and just wanted to chime in with some food for thought.

From my view, there is a greater probability for middle managers to be subject to downsizing after 3-5 years in their role if they are not on the radar for promotion or advancement. I have seen steady eddies who are effective in their role sit in the same seat for decades at the same company. The manage up or out principal seems to skew more towards managers.

This leads me to ponder if it is advantageous or +EV to even pursue and chase the coveted "next step" aka middle manager role. As many have noted, those who ascend past middle management are often already flagged and identified thus chasing such a role can place an X on your back when time comes for talent reviews/succession planning.


Is the steady Eddie who saves and enjoys 30-40 years in a less stressful role better off than the middle manager who only lasts a few years in their role (which seems more probable than remaining in it for longer)?
I am not too far into my career but I sense this as well. It seems to me that the treadmill turns on when you move up to a management role.

On the other hand I have friends who are in very high powered career tracks (VPs at PE shops) who claim they get utility from the thrill of climbing the ladder (although they seemed to be constantly stressed). They are fully aware of the stress the job brings (I love ribbing them about it) but they are drawn towards it.

It leads me to believe it's really a case of what your risk profile is, and where you sit on the efficiency frontier. For many the highest marginal return on their labor + stress could be an individual contributor role.
uberdoc
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by uberdoc »

I can relate to OP. I have realized that I am not a management/admin material. For people like us, staying up to date with our technical skills and attaining early financial independence are very crucial. I have good people skills but no no interest in work place politics or networking. If by good luck I get selected for administration ladder I will take it but will not put into any effort to participate into this rat race.
BrooklynInvest
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by BrooklynInvest »

I've spent a lotta years in corporate America. My observations -

You can be downsized at any point. Plan and act accordingly

You can meet some amazing people that you'll be friends with for a long time

You can meet some spectacular tools that you'll laugh about for a long time

You should either be leaning or earning, and if you're lucky both

When work stinks, try and create things outside work that don't. The double whammy of nothing to look forward to during the day and nothing of interest in the evenings were tough on occasion

Nearing retirement motivation is hard to find. I have other interests thankfully

My grandparents ran a deli, worked 12 hour days six days a week, and I'm sure others had it worse still. Whereas I'm slightly bored and usually mildly annoyed while I sit in my nice office (usually) making a pretty good salary. I have little reason to complain

Good luck OP!
Financologist
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Financologist »

Frugalbear wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:23 am I'm 32 working for a Megacorp and I'm feeling burned out. Kind of exhausted from all the smoke and mirrors... sleight of hand actions.

I've thought of getting a new job, but fear of the unknown and current compensation keeps me here. Then I have thoughts that I should be grateful to have a job.

How did or do you cope with it?
Frugalbear, some time has passed. How have things turned out thus far? I hope you're in a good place.

In the first month of my career I realized that 45 years was too much. I've had a wonderful career - 20+ years now @ 2 megacorps. I enjoy a lot of the work and most of my colleagues and customers. I appreciate the financial and other benefits. And even though I've been mostly happy, there is one aspect of it all that nags at me. IT IS VERY TIME CONSUMING. As much as I like work, I love my family more.

So, I continue to dedicate myself to financial freedom. And when I hit "my number" I will exhale and figure out how to get better balance in my life. Way more time with family, playing tennis and guitar, visiting friends, volunteering and probably some work. In the meanwhile I'm doing everything I can to make the most of Corporate life - pursuing interesting transactions, relationships, opportunities etc..

Good luck
squirm
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by squirm »

Escapevelocity wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:33 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:26 pm my wife is a manager and she's tired of the politics. i told her she can retire in 4 years.
How did you guys come to the understanding that you are the gatekeeper to when she can retire?
Um, because she has full trust in my decisions.
Last edited by squirm on Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
squirm
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by squirm »

Helo80 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:16 pm What I learned in this thread --- FIRE whether you want to or not. Develop that nest egg that JL Collins calls "Something Something Money".

(Note: had to obscure JL Collins words, because I'm not allowed to even censor the cuss word).
The problem with today is establishing a steady income without swings in net asset value. Years ago you could count on a CD, not anymore. I guess you can pay down or pay off debt and get s similar effect.
Escapevelocity
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Escapevelocity »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:28 pm
Escapevelocity wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:33 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:26 pm my wife is a manager and she's tired of the politics. i told her she can retire in 4 years.
How did you guys come to the understanding that you are the gatekeeper to when she can retire?
Um, because she has full trust in my decisions.
Good answer. Sorry if it came across as judgmental, I was genuinely curious.
squirm
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by squirm »

Escapevelocity wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:12 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:28 pm
Escapevelocity wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:33 pm
squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:26 pm my wife is a manager and she's tired of the politics. i told her she can retire in 4 years.
How did you guys come to the understanding that you are the gatekeeper to when she can retire?
Um, because she has full trust in my decisions.
Good answer. Sorry if it came across as judgmental, I was genuinely curious.
No problem. She wants me to retire first anyways.

I'm extremely proud of her, been married and best of friends for 25 years, she always says I'm her rock...
Valuethinker
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Valuethinker »

squirm wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:32 pm
Helo80 wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:16 pm What I learned in this thread --- FIRE whether you want to or not. Develop that nest egg that JL Collins calls "Something Something Money".

(Note: had to obscure JL Collins words, because I'm not allowed to even censor the cuss word).
The problem with today is establishing a steady income without swings in net asset value. Years ago you could count on a CD, not anymore. I guess you can pay down or pay off debt and get s similar effect.
Yes.

They used to be final salary/ defined benefit pensions and if you did your 30 or 35 year stint you retired comfortably.

At current annuity rates most people cannot achieve that level of comfort in terms of necessary lump sum.

So we invent a "4% rule" to pretend that we will be OK. But the "rule" does not get around the fall in long term interest rates.

We are forced to take greater equity risk to sustain standard of living in retirement.
S4C5
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by S4C5 »

notBobToo wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:58 am Having worked at a Megacorp for over 40 years, I always thought that if I had to do it over again, I would work like an [associate, intern, apprentice, dog, what have you] for five years, make as many contacts as I could, learn as much as I could (including having Megacorp pay for my Masters), and save as much as I could and then, quit and go private (or Federal) AND NEVER LOOK BACK.

Unless you are already way up in the food chain (or have a certain path there), you are kidding yourself if you think that your compensation and more importantly, you longevity at a Megacorp will substantially improve with age. If nothing changes, in ten years, you will be even more anxious.
Correct. In my early 20s I worked for 2 megacorps hired on with the strength and freshness of my bachelor's degree. I was hired with no work to do, never given any work, and never gained any skills at either. I made $60k/year + benefits for showing up basically. Occasionally I got chewed out by a boss for billing 40 hours a week to document review or something, so it basically became creative ways as to how to split up what projects to log your 40 hours to. All the young new hires felt the same way.

I looked around the enormous office and saw multiple people in their 50s and 60s falling asleep at their desks and playing solitaire. These people typically made around $80-90k. So interesting, you start off at age 22 and make $60k and by retirement you might be making 150-200% of what the entry level people are making if you're lucky. The low level managers had awful lives and usually were the ones who got blamed and fired for anything else going wrong. Making it beyond that to upper management seemed to require a certain type of sociopathic personality.

I realized fairly quickly that if the company were to ever have major financial problems and have to downside, I would risk perpetual unemployment without any skills I could market. By age 25-26 I was coming into work around 9:30 AM, taking 2 hour lunches, and leaving at 4.

So I went to medical school. The problem of not learning a useful skill and figuring out what to do with my time immediately disappeared.
10 years of schooling/training later, In my mid 30s, I now have an income many multiples of what I ever hoped to max out at the megacorps, and spend every second at work doing actual work and leave when it's done. No more idly killing time.
In retrospect, I made the right choice. However, I also realize that I could have also motivated myself to learn skills in my original industry and gone to work for a small company. Either way, I am sure that if I had stayed at the megacorps, I would still be doing a whole lot of nothing earning the same paycheck. $60k is a decent amount of money when you are 22. Not a lot, but you've got disposable income and your peers are still living with their parents working gig jobs. It's not a lot when you are 40 and your peers who went other routes are FIREing and you're worried about what you'll do if you have to find another job when your only skills are making spreadsheets.
ThatGuy
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by ThatGuy »

alfaspider wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:44 pmBeing FI frees you from having to put up bad employment situations. Few people really want to retire to a beach at 45 for the rest of their life (well, they may think they do, but reality is that most will get bored and aimless). But everyone would likely be happier on their own terms.
I find this sad. Do you really believe that most people don't have enough self actualization to find interesting things on their own? That most people require an outside force to direct how they spend their energy?
Work is the curse of the drinking class - Oscar Wilde
alfaspider
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by alfaspider »

ThatGuy wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:39 am
alfaspider wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:44 pmBeing FI frees you from having to put up bad employment situations. Few people really want to retire to a beach at 45 for the rest of their life (well, they may think they do, but reality is that most will get bored and aimless). But everyone would likely be happier on their own terms.
I find this sad. Do you really believe that most people don't have enough self actualization to find interesting things on their own? That most people require an outside force to direct how they spend their energy?
I think you misunderstand. My point is not that people must work in structured employment in order to find meaning. Rather, most people will be unfulfilled by a life consisting entirely of leisure activities. Most people want to do *something* productive, be it self-employment, writing a novel, charitable work, teaching, etc. The good thing about FI is the decision on what to do is no longer dictated by the need to earn a living.
alfaspider
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by alfaspider »

S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:31 am

I looked around the enormous office and saw multiple people in their 50s and 60s falling asleep at their desks and playing solitaire. These people typically made around $80-90k. So interesting, you start off at age 22 and make $60k and by retirement you might be making 150-200% of what the entry level people are making if you're lucky. The low level managers had awful lives and usually were the ones who got blamed and fired for anything else going wrong. Making it beyond that to upper management seemed to require a certain type of sociopathic personality.

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
drummerboy
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by drummerboy »

financeidiot wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:09 pm It's hard to understand what you have until you sample something else. I've worked at MegaCorps, a federal contractor, startups, and (now) for myself. Each have their advantages and disadvantages:

I didn't understand the value of working for and with people I like until I worked for and with people I didn't like.
I didn't understand why people would take less money to work fewer hours until I worked at 60-80 hour weeks at a soul-sucking MegaCorp.
I didn't understand why people would trade salary for stock option lottery tickets at a startup until I had to make that choice.
I didn't understand why people go nuts for WeWork and other neat office perks until I worked for a company that had them.
I didn't understand why people wouldn't want to work for themselves until I experienced the loneliness of a company of one.

Every situation has pros and cons, but you'll never really know if it's for you until you try it. The most important thing is to understand who you are, what you want, and what you're sacrificing. If you're comfortable with your choices, you're in the right place. If you're not, it's time to try something else.

But here's the kicker! You can go back! If you're good at your job, nice to people, and honest, you can go back to where you fit best or find a similar situation. Leaving a job doesn't have to burn the bridge behind you. I can make a phone call and be back at an old employer within 1-3 months.

If where you are now was the best fit for you all along, you'll appreciate it more when you eventually come back to it.
+1
investingdad
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by investingdad »

Getting back on topic...

A coworker who manages a small engineering team was recently told they will be accepting a promotion into a different group.

I say this because it was clearly implied that refusing could harm their long term chances for future promotions and better opportunities. So while they had the option to decline, it was pretty clear it wasn't a good option.

He isn't thrilled to be leaving because I know he likes the group he's working with. On top of that, I know the veep he'll be reporting to and I don't envy him. Guy is a pompous donkey who thinks everyone should work 80 hour weeks because that's what he does. Remember the solar eclipse about a year or so back? When people went outside to check it out, he belittled them and made the comment to a higher up in the meeting I was attending that, "because nobody ever saw a cloudy day before".

Is the money and climbing worth it? Wouldn't be for me. That's why I say, invest early invest often.
S4C5
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by S4C5 »

alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:04 am
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:31 am

I looked around the enormous office and saw multiple people in their 50s and 60s falling asleep at their desks and playing solitaire. These people typically made around $80-90k. So interesting, you start off at age 22 and make $60k and by retirement you might be making 150-200% of what the entry level people are making if you're lucky. The low level managers had awful lives and usually were the ones who got blamed and fired for anything else going wrong. Making it beyond that to upper management seemed to require a certain type of sociopathic personality.

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong. Just not working hard enough? Then you learned they were talking about tech, usually in very high COL areas (e.g., Seattle -- one of my friends relocated to Seattle to work for Microsoft and doubled his salary instantly). Good luck relocating from Raytheon to Lockheed Martin and doubling your salary in a lateral career move. Maybe I'm wrong and I would have come out the same financially, but I suspect that if I had stayed at my same company for the past 10 years I'd be lucky to crack into the 6 figures by now.

Engineering is a total bait-and-switch career for young people. You work really hard in school and get a decent starting salary that never goes anywhere. Then you look at the people who went to nursing school, made mediocre grades and partied through school, and are now all doing nurse practitioner school online and pulling down 150k by age 30 when you're making half that as an engineer. Not only that they have immensely better job mobility and job security. And their job is extremely easy and routine not really requiring higher level thinking. It's a shame.
stoptothink
Posts: 8131
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by stoptothink »

S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am
alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:04 am
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:31 am

I looked around the enormous office and saw multiple people in their 50s and 60s falling asleep at their desks and playing solitaire. These people typically made around $80-90k. So interesting, you start off at age 22 and make $60k and by retirement you might be making 150-200% of what the entry level people are making if you're lucky. The low level managers had awful lives and usually were the ones who got blamed and fired for anything else going wrong. Making it beyond that to upper management seemed to require a certain type of sociopathic personality.

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong.
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.
KlangFool
Posts: 17262
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by KlangFool »

OP,


I come from a multi-generation business family. My family's philosophy is your life is your own business and no one else.

We consider our jobs as a service business. We trade our hours for money. We think about our Return on Investment (ROI) on our hours. We do not work for free. If we put in the extra hours, we expect to be compensated in some fashions (new skill and so on). We believe that it is up to us to fight for just compensation. We do not believe in brownie points. In many cases, the folks that promised the brownie are not capable of keeping up with their promises.


On the other hand, we believe in people and relationships. Some people are worth the time and effort to invest your extra effort. My ex-bosses and ex-workers had helped me out multiple times throughout the years.

I do not believe in the employer's and organization's loyalty and so on. I believe in people. And, some people are worth it and some don't. So, please find out whether you are working for someone that deserves your extra effort.


KlangFool
investingdad
Posts: 1778
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:41 pm

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by investingdad »

stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am
alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:04 am
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:31 am

I looked around the enormous office and saw multiple people in their 50s and 60s falling asleep at their desks and playing solitaire. These people typically made around $80-90k. So interesting, you start off at age 22 and make $60k and by retirement you might be making 150-200% of what the entry level people are making if you're lucky. The low level managers had awful lives and usually were the ones who got blamed and fired for anything else going wrong. Making it beyond that to upper management seemed to require a certain type of sociopathic personality.

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong.
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.
A PhD over 50 making under 100k? In what field? If technical, that's ridiculous.

I'm a bachelors chemE and 47. LCOL or maybe MCOL, I make 125k.
stoptothink
Posts: 8131
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by stoptothink »

investingdad wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:49 pm
stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am
alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:04 am
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:31 am

I looked around the enormous office and saw multiple people in their 50s and 60s falling asleep at their desks and playing solitaire. These people typically made around $80-90k. So interesting, you start off at age 22 and make $60k and by retirement you might be making 150-200% of what the entry level people are making if you're lucky. The low level managers had awful lives and usually were the ones who got blamed and fired for anything else going wrong. Making it beyond that to upper management seemed to require a certain type of sociopathic personality.

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong.
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.
A PhD over 50 making under 100k? In what field? If technical, that's ridiculous.

I'm a bachelors chemE and 47. LCOL or maybe MCOL, I make 125k.
Health products. These are chemists and microbiologists; QA/QC, bench work, primary research, product substantiation, scientific technical writing, etc. I know exactly how much the competition pays because they've all recruited me. I have 27 on my staff, I'm the only member of the department making six-figures.

The data is pretty clear that the large majority of workers in their 50's are not making $100k+, so I always wonder where everybody else (on this board at least) is working? It clearly isn't where I do...or where my wife does (cybersecurity), or mom (healthcare software), or FIL (SAAS) or pretty much anybody I have intimate knowledge of compensation for.
ktd
Posts: 181
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:19 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by ktd »

stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am
alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:04 am
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:31 am

I looked around the enormous office and saw multiple people in their 50s and 60s falling asleep at their desks and playing solitaire. These people typically made around $80-90k. So interesting, you start off at age 22 and make $60k and by retirement you might be making 150-200% of what the entry level people are making if you're lucky. The low level managers had awful lives and usually were the ones who got blamed and fired for anything else going wrong. Making it beyond that to upper management seemed to require a certain type of sociopathic personality.

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong.
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.

Maybe you are in low cost living area? All people I know from 25 to 60 years old making 6-figures in California.
stoptothink
Posts: 8131
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by stoptothink »

ktd wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:15 pm
stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am
alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:04 am
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:31 am

I looked around the enormous office and saw multiple people in their 50s and 60s falling asleep at their desks and playing solitaire. These people typically made around $80-90k. So interesting, you start off at age 22 and make $60k and by retirement you might be making 150-200% of what the entry level people are making if you're lucky. The low level managers had awful lives and usually were the ones who got blamed and fired for anything else going wrong. Making it beyond that to upper management seemed to require a certain type of sociopathic personality.

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong.
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.

Maybe you are in low cost living area? All people I know from 25 to 60 years old making 6-figures in California.
Slightly above median (Utah County, Utah). The data is the data, $90k at 50yrs old puts you in the 75th percentile (I said 90th earlier, was looking at wrong line) for the entire country https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/. I'm from LA, my brother, sister, and almost all my childhood friends are still in California; aged 30-40. Out of ~25 people, my brother and maybe 4 friends make $100K+. We clearly run in different circles.
alfaspider
Posts: 2982
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:44 pm

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by alfaspider »

stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:09 pm
investingdad wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:49 pm
stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am
alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:04 am

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong.
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.
A PhD over 50 making under 100k? In what field? If technical, that's ridiculous.

I'm a bachelors chemE and 47. LCOL or maybe MCOL, I make 125k.
Health products. These are chemists and microbiologists; QA/QC, bench work, primary research, product substantiation, scientific technical writing, etc. I know exactly how much the competition pays because they've all recruited me. I have 27 on my staff, I'm the only member of the department making six-figures.

The data is pretty clear that the large majority of workers in their 50's are not making $100k+, so I always wonder where everybody else (on this board at least) is working? It clearly isn't where I do...or where my wife does (cybersecurity), or mom (healthcare software), or FIL (SAAS) or pretty much anybody I have intimate knowledge of compensation for.
But a large majority of workers aren't F500 HQ office workers. The "megacorp" jobs we are talking about are above average in the first place. Only around 35% of Americans even have a Bachelors degrees and less than 4% have doctorate or professional degrees (phd/Jd/CPA) that are the baseline requirements for these jobs. So the expectations are going to be quite a bit higher.

I'm not in tech- oil and gas. While it's been a rough time in the industry and there's been a lot of layoffs, salaries remain generally good. There are certainly no Phds making less than six figures at any major oil company I'm aware of. Living in a HCOL area is not necessary. My engineer friends (Mostly BS or BS + Masters) in the industry typically broke six figures in their late 20s.

To be fair, my perspective is a bit skewed as a lawyer. Most people from law school started at six figures unless they went into public interest or government.
S4C5
Posts: 113
Joined: Sat May 05, 2018 11:49 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by S4C5 »

stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.
Yep, your experience is typical. There is a lot of gaslighting when it comes to corporate salaries for exempt workerbees. I think some of this is cognitive dissonance as both people want to believe such high pay is realistically obtainable in these companies and if they are actually getting paid >90th percentile that it will easily translate to another company in a lateral career move or if they get laid off and have to get a job elsewhere.

125k at age 47 (solidly mid career) is pretty good and a reasonable goal for most people I would think. I think most people don't make it this far but it's at least obtainable if you play your cards right (typically by hopping between companies a few times and getting raises with each sign on). It's the attitude that if you just keep chugging along and work harder and play the game harder then you'll be pulling in 250k eventually that bugs me. That never happens for most people in megacorps no matter how smart they are or how hard they work.

When I was working as an engineer, the early career PhDs in the company were making around 80-90. Late career around 130 or so.

Never gonna get rich working for the man. Same is true in medicine (which unfortunately is basically being run by megacorps trying to employee the MDs as workerbees more and more), the salary floor is just a lot higher. Even the worst MD should be able to bring in 250k without paying attention.
stoptothink
Posts: 8131
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by stoptothink »

alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:24 pm
stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:09 pm
investingdad wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:49 pm
stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am

You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong.
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.
A PhD over 50 making under 100k? In what field? If technical, that's ridiculous.

I'm a bachelors chemE and 47. LCOL or maybe MCOL, I make 125k.
Health products. These are chemists and microbiologists; QA/QC, bench work, primary research, product substantiation, scientific technical writing, etc. I know exactly how much the competition pays because they've all recruited me. I have 27 on my staff, I'm the only member of the department making six-figures.

The data is pretty clear that the large majority of workers in their 50's are not making $100k+, so I always wonder where everybody else (on this board at least) is working? It clearly isn't where I do...or where my wife does (cybersecurity), or mom (healthcare software), or FIL (SAAS) or pretty much anybody I have intimate knowledge of compensation for.
But a large majority of workers aren't F500 HQ office workers. The "megacorp" jobs we are talking about are above average in the first place. Only around 35% of Americans even have a Bachelors degrees and less than 4% have doctorate or professional degrees (phd/Jd/CPA) that are the baseline requirements for these jobs. So the expectations are going to be quite a bit higher.
Absolutely, no disagreement. We are probably talking past each other because when I hear statements like "I don't know anybody who makes less than $100k" (not you, another poster), I have a very difficult time believing the individual who makes that statement doesn't know anybody who doesn't work for F500.

I'm senior management for a large-ish company, 90th percentile income for my age (based on national data) and not underpaid based on competition, yet I've been told multiple times on this board that I am lying about how little I make. Lake Wobegon.
User avatar
epicahab
Posts: 181
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by epicahab »

To the OP, I was in your shoes at that age, and I held on. I was miserable. Then I hit my early 40's. What they never taught us in college is that companies actively try to force people in their 40's and 50's to quit by making them miserable. Our salaries become larger and they can hire someone who's 22 years old at 1/3rd the salary. It happened to me and a number of my friends the same age at different companies. So we end up feeling "loyal" as they plot to kick us out without overtly firing us.

They put so much pressure on me that I quit without another job. I'm the sole earner for a family of 5. It was the most stressed out I've ever been, my sleep was disrupted, and even food didn't taste right for a couple weeks. But I got into contracting aka consulting and now I'm in a way better position than I ever dreamed of. My salary is much higher and I have total flexibility working from home. Many people work at home now anyway because of Covid. Find someone with a small consulting agency on LinkedIn or a forum for your skillset (how I found mine) and industry who is looking for people with your skillsets, ideally partnering with west coast technology firms.

Break the corporate ties, go into consulting, get your freedom back to walk away from a project or work on it as long as you want.
Tingting1013
Posts: 178
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:44 pm

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Tingting1013 »

S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:26 pm 125k at age 47 (solidly mid career) is pretty good and a reasonable goal for most people I would think. I think most people don't make it this far but it's at least obtainable if you play your cards right (typically by hopping between companies a few times and getting raises with each sign on). It's the attitude that if you just keep chugging along and work harder and play the game harder then you'll be pulling in 250k eventually that bugs me. That never happens for most people in megacorps no matter how smart they are or how hard they work.
66 companies in the S&P 500 pay their median employee more than $100k.

https://aflcio.org/paywatch/company-pay-ratios

This includes foreign employees and all functions (not just white collar roles), so this is very likely an underestimate of US MegaCorp pay. It also includes all employees, go-getters and not.
stoptothink
Posts: 8131
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by stoptothink »

Tingting1013 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:45 pm
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:26 pm 125k at age 47 (solidly mid career) is pretty good and a reasonable goal for most people I would think. I think most people don't make it this far but it's at least obtainable if you play your cards right (typically by hopping between companies a few times and getting raises with each sign on). It's the attitude that if you just keep chugging along and work harder and play the game harder then you'll be pulling in 250k eventually that bugs me. That never happens for most people in megacorps no matter how smart they are or how hard they work.
66 companies in the S&P 500 pay their median employee more than $100k.

https://aflcio.org/paywatch/company-pay-ratios

This includes foreign employees and all functions (not just white collar roles), so this is very likely an underestimate of US MegaCorp pay. It also includes all employees, go-getters and not.
That's 1/7.5 "megacorps". I believe there are 100+ "tech" companies in the S&P 500. I don't think that data point is really supporting your statement.

Pointless tangent anyways.
S4C5
Posts: 113
Joined: Sat May 05, 2018 11:49 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by S4C5 »

stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:33 pm I'm senior management for a large-ish company, 90th percentile income for my age (based on national data) and not underpaid based on competition, yet I've been told multiple times on this board that I am lying about how little I make. Lake Wobegon.
I don't read this board much, but I hear this all over the place.
Some of it, probably a lot of it, has to do with location. If you are an engineer or middle manager for Boeing in LA or Seattle, you very well could be making $150k. Whereas the ones in Kansas are probably making $100k.

Big tech and consulting is a different ballgame, and that's where the other confounding variable is. These companies can afford to pay their companies far, far more because of their insane revenue. But there's not a lot of jobs at FAANGM.
T4REngineer
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu May 31, 2018 9:50 am

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by T4REngineer »

S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am
Engineering is a total bait-and-switch career for young people. You work really hard in school and get a decent starting salary that never goes anywhere. Then you look at the people who went to nursing school, made mediocre grades and partied through school, and are now all doing nurse practitioner school online and pulling down 150k by age 30 when you're making half that as an engineer. Not only that they have immensely better job mobility and job security. And their job is extremely easy and routine not really requiring higher level thinking. It's a shame.
I am not sure if you have some section bias but last time I checked the worst passing engineer was still an engineer, same with the worst passing nurse and lawyer if you pass you are "still a xxxx".

I didn't look it up but in discussions with my wife (RN) 150k for NP seems on the high side - and while we have talked about it, unless she could make that level of income (for our area it seems 90-110 is more the norm) it really does not pay off to give up the couple years of heavy savings and tuition for a higher but not notably so (<20%) salary. It has the possibility of paying off but would be done more for the desire to go that path then the desire to try and make an extra buck.

My sample size is small but 10 years in most of my peers (all at various mega corps in the chemical world) are within range of doubling their starting salary - maybe not there yet but close. Now, this is where , at least for Mega corps things seem to get interesting - my first 10 years has been a steady climb up the IC ladder with rotating jobs (5 total....crazy) but levels out fast. At this point if you do not climb the pay grade ladder your increases will become essentially cost of living adjustments. So its either management or technical ladder but the technical ladder is much smaller and only goes up another grade (maybe 2 by rare exception) - also with job rotations being the norm (they are moving away from) you do not develop a deep knowledge of things but a broad working knowledge.

Do I feel cheated - no - did I fully understand that MOST people are going to "grade out" in about 10 years - or maybe it was I didn't think I was one of those MOSTs. As an engineer and fairly good performer going through school it can be a little eye opening to see in the real world its not enough to be smart and work hard - you have to play the game, be willing to relocate(sometimes) and accept somethings are also just dumb luck (right time right place) to climb. My fear is not that my current job sucks its that if I do not climb soon enough the doors shut further and further and I spend the last 15-20 years with limited options (I don't expect this but acknowledge its a possibility)

Again all this is very specific experience to a single corporation and from someone with a BSME who earns very good money for the COL (~122k including a small "expected" annual award) , that is my opinion on good days anyway
iamlucky13
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Location: Western Washington

Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by iamlucky13 »

S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am Engineering is a total bait-and-switch career for young people. You work really hard in school and get a decent starting salary that never goes anywhere. Then you look at the people who went to nursing school, made mediocre grades and partied through school, and are now all doing nurse practitioner school online and pulling down 150k by age 30 when you're making half that as an engineer. Not only that they have immensely better job mobility and job security. And their job is extremely easy and routine not really requiring higher level thinking. It's a shame.
My observation has been there is typically modest, but meaningful salary growth in engineering careers. I actually started at very low pay in my first job, which made the growth rate higher, and had a couple good opportunities come up along that carried me from below average to I think slightly above average, but as far as I've seen, it seems common for engineering salary to roughly double over a career.

Nursing is a field with a supply shortage, but even so, it appears from the major salary data websites that the average base pay is around $70-80,000. There are really abundant overtime opportunities. I could definitely see HCOL area nurses who take regular overtime hitting $150,000, but it doesn't seem typical. About 10% are nurse practitioners. They do have good job security and mobility, but I wouldn't call it easy. It seems less intellectually demanding, but still often high stress, can be physically demanding, and presents frequent unpleasantries.

The expected salaries in engineering always appealed to me, but it's not the reason I went into the field. I did it because I wanted to design and continually learn. While it is frustrating sometimes to hear about how much some other people are making without seeing a way to achieve such pay myself, if I'm honest, the pay matches the expectations I had going into this field.

The real bait and switch in engineering is few of us are designing rockets, bridges, and CPU's, or even regularly using more than 1-2 classes worth of Junior and Senior year subject matter. I currently spend more time writing work plans than using CAD, and even when I was in a primarily design role, I spent more time figuring out bills of materials and sourcing suppliers than I did solving design challenges.
batpot
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by batpot »

Easiest way to cope is to become essential.
Be an expert, or the best at something that is difficult or impossible to replace.
If it still becomes unbearable, find something else, but remember the grass is not always greener.
iamlucky13
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by iamlucky13 »

Tingting1013 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:45 pm 66 companies in the S&P 500 pay their median employee more than $100k.

https://aflcio.org/paywatch/company-pay-ratios

This includes foreign employees and all functions (not just white collar roles), so this is very likely an underestimate of US MegaCorp pay. It also includes all employees, go-getters and not.
I checked my employer, and I am 99% certain that website has at least some bad data. We are given statistical data for our work function in support of our pay review process.

I think the AFL-CIO data has my company's median pay 30% or so higher than it really is. The overall median might be over $100k. The engineering median is over $100k, but even the engineering median is below the AFL-CIO's reported company median.
alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:24 pm But a large majority of workers aren't F500 HQ office workers. The "megacorp" jobs we are talking about are above average in the first place.
Yes, and to be clear, even within Fortune 500 companies, I doubt the majority of Fortune 500 employees are office workers, and certainly not a majority are programmers for FAANG.

Fortune 1 is Walmart, with roughly as many employees as Fortune 2-10 combined. There is a lot of variation in the companies that comprise the Fortune 500. The OP's frustration is common, but is a subset of the range of frustrations that occur at megacorps.
Tingting1013
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Tingting1013 »

iamlucky13 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:37 pm
Tingting1013 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:45 pm 66 companies in the S&P 500 pay their median employee more than $100k.

https://aflcio.org/paywatch/company-pay-ratios

This includes foreign employees and all functions (not just white collar roles), so this is very likely an underestimate of US MegaCorp pay. It also includes all employees, go-getters and not.
I checked my employer, and I am 99% certain that website has at least some bad data. We are given statistical data for our work function in support of our pay review process.

I think the AFL-CIO data has my company's median pay 30% or so higher than it really is. The overall median might be over $100k. The engineering median is over $100k, but even the engineering median is below the AFL-CIO's reported company median.
The data comes straight from proxy statements filed annually with the SEC.

Unless you are in your company’s Finance Dept, the likely explanation is you are just not seeing the whole picture.
alfaspider
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by alfaspider »

iamlucky13 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:37 pm

Yes, and to be clear, even within Fortune 500 companies, I doubt the majority of Fortune 500 employees are office workers, and certainly not a majority are programmers for FAANG.

Fortune 1 is Walmart, with roughly as many employees as Fortune 2-10 combined. There is a lot of variation in the companies that comprise the Fortune 500. The OP's frustration is common, but is a subset of the range of frustrations that occur at megacorps.
Right, and what I'm saying is that the people on BH talking about their "megacorp" job aren't talking about being a cashier at Walmart.
Escapevelocity
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Escapevelocity »

batpot wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:24 pm Easiest way to cope is to become essential.
Be an expert, or the best at something that is difficult or impossible to replace.
If it still becomes unbearable, find something else, but remember the grass is not always greener.
This is the absolute best advice in this thread. Develop a niche whether it’s a subject matter that is more obscure but still important or a skill that requires intense learning
beachairs
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by beachairs »

stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:09 pm
investingdad wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:49 pm
stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
S4C5 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:54 am
alfaspider wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:04 am

Sounds like you made the right decision, but it also sounds like those were the wrong megacorps. Nether the salaries nor the level of activity you describe are anything like my experience. Nobody is making $80k in their 50s except maybe the admins.
You might be right and I just needed to keep moving around, but I worked for two before I saw how the game was played and decided to move on.

I'm not talking about big tech. They are an exception. Most non-management professionals at places like GE aren't pulling down 250k or close to that. My father worked at megacorps his whole life and retired around 120k recently. It was always annoying when people said they are making tons of money at these places and you looked around at all your peers and your own salary potential and wondered what you and everyone else was doing wrong.
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.
A PhD over 50 making under 100k? In what field? If technical, that's ridiculous.

I'm a bachelors chemE and 47. LCOL or maybe MCOL, I make 125k.
Health products. These are chemists and microbiologists; QA/QC, bench work, primary research, product substantiation, scientific technical writing, etc. I know exactly how much the competition pays because they've all recruited me. I have 27 on my staff, I'm the only member of the department making six-figures.

The data is pretty clear that the large majority of workers in their 50's are not making $100k+, so I always wonder where everybody else (on this board at least) is working? It clearly isn't where I do...or where my wife does (cybersecurity), or mom (healthcare software), or FIL (SAAS) or pretty much anybody I have intimate knowledge of compensation for.
I work with many chemists and biologists with PhDs (including myself). Everyone starts fresh out of grad school making >$100k. Heck, I'll be at almost $300k when 40.
iamlucky13
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by iamlucky13 »

Tingting1013 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:48 pm
iamlucky13 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:37 pm
Tingting1013 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:45 pm 66 companies in the S&P 500 pay their median employee more than $100k.

https://aflcio.org/paywatch/company-pay-ratios

This includes foreign employees and all functions (not just white collar roles), so this is very likely an underestimate of US MegaCorp pay. It also includes all employees, go-getters and not.
I checked my employer, and I am 99% certain that website has at least some bad data. We are given statistical data for our work function in support of our pay review process.

I think the AFL-CIO data has my company's median pay 30% or so higher than it really is. The overall median might be over $100k. The engineering median is over $100k, but even the engineering median is below the AFL-CIO's reported company median.
The data comes straight from proxy statements filed annually with the SEC.

Unless you are in your company’s Finance Dept, the likely explanation is you are just not seeing the whole picture.
I looked up our proxy statement and found enough to explain the difference. FIrst, the stated figure is total compensation, not base salary. It includes overtime, insurance, HSA, and retirement contributions. If they use the same method as the form my employer provides to remind me to be excited that my total compensation is higher than my salary, it also includes the company social security and medicare contributions. For me the total compensation is 33% higher than my base salary.

Second, the proxy statement clarifies that the actual median value used is really heavily affected by pension values. The pay ratio narrative description indicates there was a big, one time pension accrual that makes this year's value a one-time fluke. Compared to the previous year's statement, the median pay used in the executive pay ratio calculation increased 25%.

These two distinctions suggest the median annual nominal wage at my company is almost exactly where I thought it would be.
texascrane
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by texascrane »

stoptothink wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:19 pm
I wouldn't say I work for "mega-corp", but it is the world's largest company in the industry. I have 3 people over 50 working for me, 2 have PhDs; none of them are making 6-figures. Nobody here is making 6-figures unless they are in management, regardless of how long they've been around. 90th percentile for a 50yr old is ~$90k https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-age-calculator/; data would seem to suggest that there are likely a few employees of large companies making $80k (or less) in their 50's. That group would include my mom and my FIL who work for large tech companies (mom has been a project manager with the same company for ~20yrs).

Random compensation numbers thrown out on this board are always way above my experience, and the available data.
I’m in tech. Our interns make $35 an hour or more depending on their field and level of education.

Also, maybe the chart is showing up incorrectly on my iPad but it looks to me like the 90th percentile at 50 in that data set is making 140k, not 90k.
Last edited by texascrane on Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
AZAttorney11
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by AZAttorney11 »

Want to make a lot of money in the corporate world? Figure out how to be an excellent leader of people. Lots of posters in this thread are talking about their credentials, IQ, technical skills, and experience, but no mention of "EQ" or how they build and develop relationships with key stakeholders.
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Cheez-It Guy
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Re: Coping with Megacorp rat race

Post by Cheez-It Guy »

AZAttorney11 wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:47 pm Want to make a lot of money in the corporate world? Figure out how to be an excellent leader of people. Lots of posters in this thread are talking about their credentials, IQ, technical skills, and experience, but no mention of "EQ" or how they build and develop relationships with key stakeholders.
You're probably right, but man, what a bunch of business jargon. The amount of value placed on these skills is ridiculous. It's mostly BS.
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